Pet ownership is on the rise, and it's not hard to see why! Pets can add a lot of joy to life, providing comfort, companionship and unconditional love.
Especially during the pandemic, many people turned to their pets for a little extra support. An estimated 11.38 million U.S. households got a new pet since March 2020. Of these new pet owners, 3 out of 4 said their pet reduces their stress and increases their sense of well-being.
While you can't put a price tag on their love, caring for a pet comes with real costs—and it can be more expensive than you might think. According to the ASPCA, the average cost of pet ownership exceeds $1,000 in the first year alone!
The good news is that you can plan, budget and save for these expenses to make pet ownership a little easier on your wallet. Here are a few tips to help:
#1: Keep your pet active
Just like humans, pets (especially dogs and cats) need exercise to stay healthy. Make sure your pet is staying active and maintaining a healthy weight to prevent costly health conditions such as obesity, joint damage and arthritis. Daily exercise will also help your pet release their playful energy, so they don't take their boredom out on your furniture!
#2: Make DIY treats
We all love spoiling our pets, but you don't necessarily have to buy gourmet treats and snacks to show you care. One way to save money is by making your own treats using healthy “human" foods. For example, dogs can eat baby carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes. Cats can eat plain cooked chicken and fish. Another idea is to search online for homemade treat recipes to bake for your pet.
#3: Try at-home grooming
Bathing and grooming costs for a dog or cat can range from $40 to upwards of $100! If you get your pet groomed every few months, it can add up fast. To save money, consider investing in grooming supplies and watching grooming tutorials online to learn the basics.
#4: Consider pet insurance
Unfortunately, unexpected emergencies and accidents can happen to our beloved furry friends at any time. If you don't have the money set aside, you could end up relying on credit cards to cover an emergency.
Pet insurance is one way to keep pet care costs reasonable in the event of a serious illness or injury. On average, pet insurance for dogs costs around $50 per month and $30 for cats, but it could save you thousands in vet bills over time.
Spend wisely on pet costs
No matter if you're a long-time pet parent or you're planning to welcome a furry friend into your family soon, it's important to include pet expenses in your budget. Make sure you're factoring in all the monthly costs of pet ownership, including food, treats, litter, toys, grooming tools and other supplies. Shopping in bulk and joining a pet store loyalty program can help you spend wisely on pet costs!
Another tip is to set-up a secondary savings account like a Wright-Patt Credit Union (WPCU) secondary share account funded specifically for expected and unexpected pet costs. Consider using WPCU's Mobile and Online Banking to set up small, automated transfers on your paydays or on a weekly or monthly basis to fund the account for those upcoming and potential emergency pet costs.
This will help you avoid going into “pet debt" over a surprise vet bill. With a little planning upfront, you'll be prepared to be the best pet parent possible!
Looking for more budgeting tips? Check out our online Education Center for budgeting worksheets, spreadsheets and tools to help you spend wisely and better manage your hard-earned money!